Ulocked Android phone with QUERTY keyboard?
June 18, 2014 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Are there any newer phones that use the Android operating system (Jelly bean or later) that also are both available unlocked and that have a physical QUERTY keyboard? Shopping for a blind person who is trying to find easier ways to send text messages, but doesn't want a full-time plan as he is out of the country half the year.
posted by obloquy to Shopping (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
GSM Arena's search shows one 2012 model, the Samsung Galaxy Chat, which can be upgraded to Jelly Bean.

FWIW, I have a Blackberry Q5 which runs Android apps and has a physical keyboard. It was about $150 to buy outright and another $15 to unlock. I love it.
posted by area.man at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2014

I gave up and learned to use the on-screen keyboard, which obviously isn't an option for your target customer, but on the way there I had a lot of people tell me that the way to go nowadays is a Bluetooth external keyboard+case combo.
posted by straw at 10:41 AM on June 18, 2014

FYI: I believe you want to search for QWERTY, not QUERTY.
posted by dcjd at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Motorola Droid 4 has a very nice keyboard and runs Jelly Bean (though it's a bit of a strain.) I much prefer a physical keyboard and was very sad to give mine up for a more powerful but keyboardless model. For basic use it might still be a good option.
posted by contraption at 10:44 AM on June 18, 2014

I bought a Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G last year to replace a Nokia N900 that will no longer charge through USB. The Relay shipped with 4.0 (ICS) but received an over-the-air update to Jelly Bean 4.1.2. It's also officially supported by Cyanogenmod, though not by the installer yet.
posted by DanielK at 10:53 AM on June 18, 2014

Thanks dcjd; I also spelled "unlocked" wrong in my title.
posted by obloquy at 11:06 AM on June 18, 2014

Have you looked into the accessibility options on Android? The built in screenreader talkback means you can use the onscreen keyboard even if you can't see it. There's a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it's ok. The fleksy keyboard is popular, because you don't have to even hit the right keys and it'll work out what you were trying to type.

A lot of people also use Bluetooth keyboards paid with their phone, so that might be another option.
posted by Helga-woo at 11:33 AM on June 18, 2014

area.man, I bought a Q5 but haven't opened it yet as we're were thinking that Jelly Bean might have more to offer in terms of accessibility. I'm kind of hoping we end up going with the BlackBerry instead.

Helga-woo, yeah, there are a lot of new accessibility options on all the platforms, but there are so many other learning curves to deal with in regard to the necessity of using a touchscreen for navigation nowadays that we are really just hoping for something newish with a physical keyboard.

The Bluetooth keyboard thing is definitely an option worth revisiting as my research continues. Thanks to all for your responses; more insights are very welcome!
posted by obloquy at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2014

As a follow-up to Helga-woo's comment--touchscreen keyboards have apparently gotten easier to use for people who are blind/visually-impaired. While evaluating on-screen keyboards to install on my new Moto X, I came across Fleksy, which has recently become available for Android and may not require as much of a learning curve as the typical accessible touchscreen keyboard. I haven't tried it but will probably recommend it to my mother, whose many talents have never really included keyboarding and whose eyesight is not what it once was.

Just adding this in case you haven't come across it, your friend might one day contemplate trying out an on-screen keyboard, or anyone else is interested.
posted by tully_monster at 12:22 PM on June 18, 2014

Update: I tried out the Blackberry Q5, but it was a bit of a disaster in that I couldn't get the scroll/next page gestures specific to the screen reader to work most of the time. And although I could play songs, the screen reader wasn't able to read anything in the music player.

I'll try the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G next—the keyboard looks a lot better and has a dedicated number row. I will also try out a bluetooth keyboard with my own iPhone and see how that goes. Thanks again for the responses—they have all been helpful. I'll report back after further tests.
posted by obloquy at 7:06 PM on June 18, 2014

I've been using a Sony Xperia Pro for a couple of years and love the keyboard. Being a couple of years old, the stock ROM only upgrades to ICS (4.0.4), but there are custom JellyBean and KitKat ROMs available on XDA if you're comfortable with that sort of thing.
posted by quinndexter at 12:11 AM on June 19, 2014

« Older Tattoo around a scar   |   Cookie delivery in Miami right now? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.